Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Detours for Dormice

Sadly, we have yet to detect the charming Muscardinus avellanarius in our woodlands at Gatwick, so I have to get my fix elsewhere... 

Hazel Dormouse

Last weekend I nipped off on a trip to that fair Isle of Wight, with Laurie and my housemate Debbie who is working towards her PhD in genetics. We were collecting hair samples for DNA extraction and had joined up with volunteers for the People's Trust for Endangered Species, monitoring Dormouse populations on the island.

Step 1. Finding the woodland...


Step 2. Finding the correct bit of woodland


Step 3. Finding ridiculously small nest boxes within forests of bramble and densely coppiced Hazel.


These woodlands at Briddlesford were fantastically well-managed by the PTES, but this did mean the terrain was tough, with areas of brambles at chest-height. Goose-stepping all day is hard work! 

As deer are absent from the island, a lack of grazing pressure results in healthy woodland understory

The Hazel Dormouse is a protected species in the UK and their populations have declined historically, so this data is all valuable and could contribute towards the conservation of this species.


Sleepy Dormouse mother with babies

Juveniles, individually weighed before being popped back into their nest


Mum receives a small hair pluck before being safely returned to the nest box

Ah jeez...

In the end we got lots of data for Debs, plus the Isle of Wight offered up some other niceties:

Wood Mouse (Apodemus sylvaticus) juveniles in a Dormouse box

Wood Cricket (Nemobius sylvestris), a nationally scarce species. 
These were quietly churring in the background

Common Carder Bee (Bombus pascuorum) on Devil's-bit Scabious (Succisa pratensis)

Volucella pellucens on Devil's-bit Scabious

Loads of Devil's-bit Scabious

Elephant Hawk-moth (Deilephila elpenor) caterpillar

A Linyphia spider, possibly L.triangularis

We were also treated to a sighting of the Red Squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris), but kinda like my birding photos...

Yeah no chance.